Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Odom on 888, Lyon on Fordham, and Eleanor Tauber Sparrows

Photograph by Brett Odom
A stealthy Charlotte waits for lunch to fly by.

I asked Brett a number of questions concerning the behavior and story behind the photo sequence he'd sent for us to enjoy yesterday. Here's the story behind the data--

Donna -

Junior brought the strip of bark and after a little struggle of getting the whole piece behind the window, placed it on the nest. As you can tell from the photos, you can really only see behind the window when the sun is shining directly on and through it. If it's an overcast day, or the sun is already in the west, it's very difficult to view the nest.

Optimum viewing opportunities are obviously a bright sunny morning. After about 10AM the sun no longer shines behind the building(this should get later and later as the days lengthen, I believe it was around 11AM on the longest day when you could no longer see through the window on a sunny day).

So once Junior brought the bark, I do not know what Charlotte did with it. And yes, she is leaning into the bowl of the nest. Sometimes I see both of them take a branch or twig away from the nest, circle for a few moments and then bring it right back without going anywhere or dropping it.

(I've wondered about that too and ended up with multiple choice thoughts as to the behavior. A. Showing off what a wonderful job I'm doing. B. Flying off frustration that the twig won't quite fit right. C. Magical thinking: If I fly around with it, it will become a new and different twig that I'll like better. D.B.)

Some of the most amazing things I have seen are when one of them is away from the nest, a piece of nesting material such as newspaper fragments or plastic bag blows out of the nest and one of them swoops out of no where (sometimes Essex sign, sometimes the tall all black building on Broadway and 56th with trees on the roof), grab the escaping material in midair (sometimes upside down) and returns it to the nest.

I'm not really sure what any of them look at when sitting at the edge of the ledge. They will sit there for several minutes just looking around, observing everything below. I have never seen any competing raptors on my side of the building. Only prey food birds and perhaps a few gulls coming in from the river.

Brett B. Odom

It just goes to show, as I told Brett, though I've watched nests for many a day, I've never gotten to see a Red-tail retrieve escaping nesting materials. Though I certainly would like to see it. Perhaps this year...and that is partially why we do it, isn't it. Seeing things we've never seen before. The wonder of the unexpected, the waiting for what has been heard of but not seen as yet...

Fordham Nest and eyass, 2007
There has been some discussion concerning nest sites and the amount of material that is used. This is the Fordham nest from last season. The twig density looks rather skimpy from below.

But from above it doesn't look as scant. Though keep in mind that that this site has been used for multiple years by Hawkeye and Rose, and there has been time to collect material over years. Also, they have good fortune in the fact that what they bring to the nest stays put. Collins Hall has the perfect configuration of pigeon spikes. A nice single strip across the front of that long runway so loved by their eyasses.

As for branching, there is a tree right in front of the nest. A tree that allows them to branch to other trees, to roofs, and then fly back or branch back to the nest.

And from Christopher Lyons an update on how the Fordham Red-tails are doing in 2008.

Hawkeye and Rose are certainly sprucing up the Collins Hall nest (in almost the literal sense, with fresh evergreen boughs, but probably not from spruce trees). The nest has been built up a lot.

It's definitely Hawkeye and Rose--no substitutions.

I saw Hawkeye in the nest yesterday, sort of fiddling around and looking a mite impatient--Rose was nowhere in sight, and he flew right off--I doubt there were eggs. Generally speaking, Rose seems to start laying her eggs around March 20th.

And now for a look at an offering from Eleanor Tauber from the Spring Migration

Song Sparrow by Eleanor Tauber

Fox Sparrow by Eleanor Tauber

As Eleanor says, it's amazing how these sparrows blend into the leaves of the season.

Donegal Browne.

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